By Jim Fenton, The Enterprise (Brockton)
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- The tours of the Bridgewater State University campus took place during his junior and senior years at Walpole High School.
As Jack Lavanchy weighed his college options, his visited the school where his mother, Anne Marie, had attended.
Lavanchy decided that BSU wasn’t what he was looking for at the time.
“She went here and she just wanted me to check the place out,” said Lavanchy, who looked around BSU with his mother. “I had no desire to come. I checked out the campus, but I came in with a negative mindset.”
Lavanchy instead wound up at Merrimack College as a freshman in the 2015-16 academic year and was on the football roster of the Division 2 Warriors in the Northeast-10 Conference.
That lasted only one year, however, as Lavanchy wanted to be a wide receiver and was being used as a defensive back, appearing in three games as a freshman in 2015.
“It just didn’t work out there,” said Lavanchy. “I didn’t really get an opportunity. It really wasn’t the right fit for me. It’s a small school and I didn’t fit in.
“I was always nagging at the coaches to play wide receiver. I don’t know if they thought I was joking or didn’t take me serious.”
So Lavanchy moved on from Merrimack, and the path led him back to Bridgewater State, the place he became familiar with during the search for colleges.
Lavanchy joined the Bears as a sophomore in 2016 and was immediately part of the wide receiver group. And Lavanchy has been catching passes at a record-setting level ever since, breaking four school marks along the way.
The move from Merrimack to Bridgewater State paid off for Lavanchy, whose father, Gene, is co-host of WFXT’s Boston 25 Morning News and a former Channel 7 sportscaster.
“If I would have told you I’d end up at Bridgewater State, I’d be lying,” said Lavanchy, thinking back to high school. “Then a couple of years go by and I end up here. It’s funny how things work out.
“But I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason, and I’m glad it happened.″”
So is the BSU football program, which has benefited from having the talents of Lavanchy on offense.
Entering Saturday night’s game at Western Connecticut State, Lavanchy had 190 career receptions in less than three seasons, breaking the previous BSU record of 169 established from 2011-14 by Matt Green of Stoughton.
Lavanchy also set the single-season record with 80 catches a year ago when he made the All-New England and All-Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference teams and he owns the single-game records of 14 catches for 254 yards against Western Connecticut last Oct. 7.
Going into the weekend, Lavanchy ranked third nationally in Division 3 with 62 catches this season, and he was sixth in catches per game (8.9) and 11th in receiving yards (765).
With 2,511 career yards, Lavanchy is third all-time at BSU behind Green (2,765) Andy Macaione (2,642).
“We knew he was a very good athlete,” said Bears coach Joe Verria. “We saw him as an athlete for us and a receiver. Every single game, he gets better and better and he can do everything. He can punt, he can play defense. He’s just a great athlete.
“He’s a money kid. He makes the big catches when he needs to make them. He’s a good-sized kid with very good speed. He’s right up there with all of them (top receivers) we’ve had here. He goes up after balls and makes all kind of plays.”
Lavanchy has two regular-season games remaining in his BSU career, a career he has made the most of in three years.
When Lavanchy knew he was going to leave Merrimack, he talked to one of his Walpole High coaches, Dave Wall, who had played four seasons at Bridgewater State.
That helped lead Lavanchy to the Bears, and he made 48 catches for 553 yards in 2016 when BSU won the MASCAC and appeared in the NCAA tournament. That was followed by an 80-catch season for 1,193 yards and nine touchdowns in 2017.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Lavanchy, whose brother, Brett, is a freshman backup quarterback at BSU. “I didn’t know too many people who had played here.
“It seems like yesterday I was getting a tour from (assistant) coach Cal (Pat Callahan). I was intimidated. It’s a new group of guys. Are they going to welcome me? Lucky enough, they welcomed me with open arms.”
The receptions kept piling up and Lavanchy developed into one of the best wide receivers in the region to the point where his name is etched into the program’s record book.
“Coming in, I thought I could help the team win a couple of games,” said Lavanchy. “I never thought I’d become No. 1 in receptions here. I just wanted to be a team guy and help everyone get better.
“It’s cool. It’s definitely an honor. All the good players who played here in the past, I guess it means a lot to have the record. But it doesn’t really mean too much unless you get wins in the win column.”
Lavanchy has been dealing with double teams since last season, but that has only opened up other options for a potent BSU offense.
The Bears finish the regular season with a road game against Worcester State, then the Cranberry Bowl against the Massachusetts Maritime Academy on Nov. 10.
After that, Lavanchy hopes to find a way to keep playing football.
“I don’t think I’ve yet to peak,” said Lavanchy. “I feel like I’m still hitting my stride and still going strong, to be honest. I hope that I can keep it up.
“Right now, I’m just focusing on the last games, but it’s always been a dream of mine (to keep playing).”